Apparently two billion people tuned in to watch the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton this morning. I was one of them (if they count the re-broadcast on TLC), mostly because I was recovering from a nasty stomach bug and didn’t feel like much besides guilty pleasure TV-viewing, and also because I thought it would be weird that I got up at the crack of dawn to watch Princess Diana’s funeral for a glimpse of William but didn’t watch him get married. My affections for the dashing Prince have obviously waned considerably since I was willing to settle for the prerecorded version of the nuptials instead of watching His Royal Highness in real time. Maybe I get back a few points for proceeding to watch all-day news coverage of the wedding, including Oprah’s Royal Wedding Party?
(Erm, possibly not for the Oprah thing; after all, she did describe some aspect of the wedding as being “on spot,” while her British correspondent nodded and smiled in a very British way that seemed polite but clearly said Oprah is a gigantic poser.)
On the subject of the incredible amount of media attention given to the wedding, a lot of people have griped or just goggled about why Americans, in particular, care so much about some other country’s future king’s wedding. We did, after all, fight a long war for independence from said country because we weren’t too keen on their monarch. I snarked on Facebook about the ridiculous wedding merchandise marketed to Americans, notably, a positively ghastly Kate Middleton figurine collection, but other than that the media glut didn’t really bother me. In fact, I thought speculation about Kate’s gown was a rather pleasant distraction from recent headlines of wars, economic recession, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, and tornadoes. Others, understandably, including Brian Williams and the NBC Nightly News, thought it was inappropriate to give so much attention to something as frivolous as a royal wedding when there’s so much trouble in the world right now.
But as the wedding unfolded and the media voices fell silent, I became absorbed in the magnificence of Westminster Abbey and the transcendent songs of the choir and the solemn tradition of the ceremony itself and wondered if two billion people weren’t drawn to this for a reason that runs much deeper than a bit of pleasant distraction.
My favorite scene in the Harry Potter books takes place in the Hogwarts infirmary after the Death Eaters break into Hogwarts and–SPOILER ALERT!–Snape kills Dumbledore . The Order of the Phoenix are gathered around the bedside of Bill Weasley, whose face got eaten by a werewolf during the battle, and everyone expects Bill’s seemingly shallow fiancée Fleur Delacour to call off the wedding because of his disfigurement. Only Fleur surprises everybody by saying she loves Bill more than ever now, which prompts an outburst from Nymphadora Tonks who has, apparently, been involved in a tumultuous relationship with Remus Lupin who won’t marry her because he’s a werewolf and that makes him “too old, too poor…too dangerous” for her. But Tonks disagrees, and wants to hash it out with Remus right then and there. He responds, “This is…not the moment to discuss it. Dumbledore is dead…” And then, surprise of all surprises, Professor McGonagall dresses him down: “Dumbledore would have been happier than anybody to think that there was a little more love in the world.”
Because isn’t love what it’s all about? The root of everything we fight against, everything we fight for–nature, politics, evil–is love. Family. Marriage. Without that, the human race can’t survive. And not just in a reproductive sense, though that’s certainly part of the biological drive to love. But our emotional survival is just as crucial, and humans aren’t solitary creatures. We need someone to love and to cherish, to have and to hold, for better or for worse, for rich or for poor, in sickness and in health till death do us part.
That’s why, when the world is burning up and blowing away all around us, two billion of us turn our televisions to watch some other country’s future king’s wedding. Because we need a little more love in the world.